How migration affects poor urban settlements
The relationship has been expressed in simple terms as between (a) The degree (or level) of urbanization, and (b) GNP per capita for countries of the world. The relationship has been found to be positive, with economically developed countries generally showing higher level of urbanization. This may lead the uninitiated person to conclude that one effective path to development is urbanization.
The urbanization and development relationship is also obvious in third world countries, although, urbanization in such regions may not have occurred through industrialization which was the case in the West and in Japan; rather it has probably taken place mainly through the growth of the tertiary sector and the informal manufacturing sector. The other distinguishing feature of urbanization in the western and non-western (developing) societies is the rapidity at which urban growth and urbanization have taken place in the developing countries.
How migration affects slumization and poor urban settlements:
The role of migration in urbanization is obvious in all societies and at almost all times, since urbanization and urban growth take place through a combination of three components, such as (a) natural increase of the native urban population, (b) area redefinition or reclassification or annexation and (c) rural-urban (or other forms of internal) migration. In a condition of developing urbanization, role of migration is even more pronounced while in the state of advanced urbanization, where urban growth is almost stagnant or even declining, internal migration plays a minor or almost no role.
Rural to urban migration may again take many forms, such as (a) permanent migration, (b) temporary migration, (c) seasonal migration, (d) circular migration and (c) commuting. The process ranges from short distance mobility (commuting) to long distance and long term movement or permanent migration. The 1996 Habitat Global Report on Human Settlements highlighted the importance of the study of internal migration in developing countries and also noted the paucity of such studies. In the case of Bangladesh, status of academic as well as planning studies on internal migration is not too bad, although, all dimensions of internal migration might not have received enough attention.
Only a few studies took a macro-approach looking at internal Urbanization, Migration and Development in Bangladesh 8 migration on a national scale and its many dimensions, while most of the other studies focused on rural to urban migration and more specifically on migrants at the urban end. Even in such cases, saving a few, majority of the studies were related to Dhaka. Only a few major survey works were conducted on other cities, such as Khulna and Mymensingh.
Considerable literature exists on the subject of determinants or causes of rural to urban migration. A Bangladeshi scholar working at an American University has, in a recent paper, classified the models of causes of migration into two groups (i) one which isolates migration as a domestic phenomenon and (ii) the other which places causes of migration within an international politico- economic framework. Migration is the combined effect of both push and pulls factors and it is often difficult to separate the role of the two. Within the Push-Pull model, push factors (at rural end) may be identified for Bangladesh as: 1) Population pressure, adverse person-land ratio, landlessness and poverty; 2) Frequent and severe natural disasters (particularly river bank erosion); 3) Law and order situation and 4) Lack of social and cultural opportunities.
The impact rural to urban migration is both diverse and deep, both at the urban destination end and at the rural origin. Most of the researches have been at the urban end. Urbanization and urban growth occurring due to migration have both positive and negative consequences and impacts. Some of the positive consequences of urbanization are the following: economic benefits: higher productivity, better income etc; demographic benefits: lowering of age at marriage, reduction of fertility rate; socio-cultural benefits: modernization; political benefits: empowerment, democracy; improved access to information technology; some of these have already been discussed in the preceding sections.
We will now have a little more discussion on the negative consequences of migration and urbanization. Urbanization is not an unmixed blessing. Its negative consequences are of great concern. These negative impacts assume critical role under situation of rapid and uncontrolled or unplanned urban expansion. The negative consequences can be grouped as the following: environmental consequences; encroachment on productive agricultural land and forests; extreme pressure on housing; growth of slums and the pressure on and urban services; economic consequences--leading to income inequality and poverty and ill effects of globalization; social consequences--resulting in increased violence and crime and social degradation; cultural consequences--intrusion of alien culture, loss of national cultural identity; and criminalization of politics.
Policymakers should eliminate primate city favouritism; improve urban efficiency, in order to lower the cost of living curve by dealing with urban crowding and providing public goods; eliminate the biases that lead to squatter settlements with a reasonable titling policy and urban deregulation; improve market access between cities by developing transport infrastructure and lowering impediments to trade ; and not discourage internal migration, which fosters an efficient allocation of the population and has an equalizing effect across places.
The writer is an environmental analyst & associate member, Bangladesh Economic Association